Woman whose partner died by suicide weeks before she miscarried their baby says experience has become a ‘part of the fabric of her life’
- Claire Russell, from Warwickshire, told BBC’s Woman’s Hour about the tragedy
- For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch
- Read more: People who do shift work up to 22% more likely to suffer depression
A woman whose partner died by suicide weeks before she miscarried their baby has spoken of the tragedy, saying she has been on an ‘extraordinary journey.’
Claire Russell, from Warwickshire, told BBC’s Woman’s Hour how her partner Mark Lotsu had killed himself in March 2018, and weeks later she miscarried their unborn child.
She explained how the days after Mark’s death were ‘a blur’, but said she was determined to ‘find purpose’ in his passing.
She said she still has ‘bad days’, explaining how she had struggled to tell her children, whom she shares with a former partner, what had happened to Mark.
Claire explained: ‘I don’t think you get over something like this. I think you learn to live with it and it becomes part of the fabric of your life and who you are.’
Claire Russell, from Warwickshire, whose partner Mark Lotsu died by suicide weeks before she miscarried their baby has spoken of the tragedy, saying she has been on an ‘extraordinary journey’
Before meeting Mark, Claire had spent years building up a successful corporate career, managing and directing businesses in the financial services sector.
She sold her insurance business and began to work in a consultancy capacity as a strategic development director, helping businesses to look at all areas of development of their business.
However she had struggled with her own mental health, telling the BBC: ‘I’d experienced challenges with my own mental health two or three years earlier as I’d had a break down.
‘My journey to learn about mental health and resilience and developing my own knowledge and understanding in terms of how I could look after my own mental health and how I could help others, that had been developing over the past few years.’
She continued: ‘I had been building this tool kit, like a Bob the Builder tool kit, with these different tools in which had helped me to rebuild this state of resilience.’
After realising she wanted to use her skills and knowledge to help others go through difficult times, she spent some of her time volunteering with Samaritans.
Meanwhile she also began volunteering and working privately with people; and to start speaking candidly about issues relating to mental health and suicide.
Former teacher Mark and business owner Claire met through networking events, and and had been together for a year when Mark died.
Claire told BBC’s Woman’s Hour how her partner Mark had killed himself in March 2018, and weeks later she miscarried their unborn child
Claire previously told Warwickshire World how her boyfriend had ‘been with her that day’ and said he appeared ‘happier than he had been in a long time’ before his death.
Tragically, she was pregnant with Mark’s child when he died but, weeks afterwards, she received the devastating news that her baby had also died.
Appearing on Woman’s Hour, she said: ‘Those first days and weeks after losing Mark are something of a blur.’
Claire continued: ‘In the very early days, I felt ‘well I had to keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other, because my children need me and they need me to be consistent,
‘That was a really positive thing for me. The other thing which was quite challenging, as my children were quite young.
‘Mark was not their father but they were close to him. It was working out how I was going to talk to them about suicide.
‘They knew what I did in my work, and I really needed to understand how to talk to them about suicide.’
She said she received guidance on how to have the conversation with her children, as well as giving them space to ‘ask the question they need to ask.’
Appearing on Woman’s Hour, she said those first days and weeks after losing Mark are something of a blur’
She said her journey has been ‘extraordinary’ and she went on to set up a business to help people with their mental health in the workplace
Calling the journey ‘extraordinary’, she continued: ‘When I think back to that time what stands out to me is from a really early point there was a realisation that I needed to find a way through this, I needed to find a sense of purpose in it.
‘That was the thing I really held very, very firmly to.’
‘I had had previous challenging experiences earlier in my life, and the thread which runs through them is that I have been able to find some sense of purpose in each of those experiences.
‘It was a really conscious choice to seek that and find a way through.’
Meanwhile she also said she had found comfort in those around her, saying: ‘I had therapists in place, friends, family, people I worked with who I trusted and knew that I could lean on.’
Claire explained: ‘So really early on, it was very clear to me that I needed to find a sense of purpose in this.
‘I’d already begun the process of retraining. I went on to train as a mental health first aid instructor for adults and for children, a suicide prevention instructor, a mental health coach.
‘I didn’t really know why I was doing all that stuff really, except that I wanted to learn and then it became clear to me that a way I could help a lot of people and reach a lot of people was by working with organisations to help them look after their people.’
She then founded Mental Health in Business, an organisation which helps to ‘create psychologically safe workplaces’ by offering ‘training and support’ to employees.
She said she still has ‘bad days’ saying they become a ‘part of who you are’ and saying she is moved by the work she is doing.
Claire explained: ‘How I cope with those difficult days is looking around me and seeing the positive impact of the work we’re doing.
‘Knowing that by sharing my experiences by doing the work we’re doing, that we’re ultimately making a difference for a lot of people.’
For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch
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